Ten year old Homaira* has Cerebral Palsy, and nine months ago when we started working with her and her family, she was suffering from neglect and abuse. She was unable to hold a pencil, and had bruised knees and elbows from constantly falling over. A very quiet and solitary girl, Homaira was not sent to school and had not learnt social skills, crying and hiding behind family members when our social workers came to visit her. Homaira’s family said that they believed it was shameful to let Homaira go outside. They explained that because she fell over a lot, people laughed at her and local children bullied her. Her clothes were dirty and her physical disability angered her family, who regularly beat her, often with a mobile phone charger.

homaira with physiotherapist
Homaira with her physiotherapist who helped her stand straight, keep her balance and walk.
As part of our In-Home Care Project we have been working with Homaira’s family since December 2016. Children with a disability like Homaira face extremely bleak odds in Afghanistan. Poverty, poor healthcare, and a limited understanding of disability often lead to neglect, abuse, and abandonment. This project helps families like Homaira’s to better-support their children’s unique needs and works to bring children living with a disability out of hiding and into education.
 
One of the first things we noticed was Homaira’s poor eyesight. A simple yet life changing fix, she was prescribed and provided with reading glasses. Homaira then started physiotherapy to help her learn to sit in a chair and walk down stairs. Homaira’s body was very bent, and now she can stand straight, keep her balance and walk. This means she can visit the neighbourhood children, just like her siblings can. She can hold a pencil and comb her own hair for the first time in her life.
Homaira wearing glasses
Homaira, pictured here wearing her new reading glasses, now says that she wants to go to school every day.

The nine months of family visits from our social worker have seen them start to champion her in the community; her grandmother even visited the neighbours who used to laugh at her and asked them to apologise. They are more aware of the rights of children with disabilities and have the knowledge required to address her unique needs. They now support and encourage her in her learning; her grandmother, mother, father and aunt all help with her drawing and writing practice. She is now allowed to go to school, which she attends three times a week at our Community Based Education Centre in Wazir Abad, Kabul. Homaira likes pens and notebooks and learns math and Dari on a daily basis. She has learnt to write and can finally count from one to ten.

Homaira with her brother, who also has Cerebral Palsy and is part of our in-home care programme, can now hold a pencil and draw pictures.
Homaira with her brother, who also has Cerebral Palsy and is part of our in-home care programme, can now hold a pencil and draw pictures.
We are currently working with nine families in Kabul, and with your help we will be able to expand this programme to reach even more children living with a disability in Afghanistan.
 
“We are very happy and appreciative of the work that the project team did for our family. Homaira and her brother are now able to walk and go to school on their own. We have noticed a big difference and are very proud of our children.” – Homaira’s parents.
 
 
*names have been changed in accordance with our child protection policy.
 
Photos by: Maria de la Guardia

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